Pass the Remote: The Last Ship – Film Dispenser

Television July 4, 2014 Scott Phillips
Scott serves as the Content Programmer for the Way Down Film Festival held in Columbus, Georgia every Fall.

The Last Ship, one of the new summer series premiering on TNT, feels like a show stitched together from the remnants of other, better shows. Post-apocalyptic world? Of course. Everything edgy has a dystopian setting these days. People trapped on an island? No, that’s been done before. But, they could be trapped on a boat. Virus running wild? Yeah, just not a zombie virus, a regular, normal kind of untreatable virus. Throw in some explosions when things get stale, and you’ve got a show. Right?

Based on the 1988 novel by William Brinkley, The Last Ship series has jettisoned the original storyline of a Navy vessel at sea when a global nuclear war breaks out. “What if you were literally the last few hundred people on Earth?” is an interesting existential premise, but it doesn’t give a television series much room to maneuver. So, nuclear holocaust has been replaced by a viral pandemic. The crew of the stranded destroyer must stay alive and seek out a cure to save all of humanity with two scientists and a makeshift lab. (Yes, it’s as silly as it sounds.)

Every cliché, stereotype and viewer demographic is present and accounted for. Virile ship commander (Eric Dane) butts heads with sexy virologist (Rhona Mitre). Start the office poll on how many episodes it takes for them to sneak in a kiss while they’re saving the world. We have the female African American executive officer who casually sneaks in references to her girlfriend. We also have Petty Officer Abercrombie and Fitch and Cadet Victoria Secret who have a clandestine shipboard romance unfolding. And don’t forget the academic who has his head in a book for half of the episode. Of course, he’s Asian, and he’s bound to save the day before this is all over because, well, he’s clearly book smart.

The script serves up some laughably bad dialogue. “Most of my colleagues think I’m insane,” the female scientist says as she explains her pandemic theory. “Well, are you?” the captain responds. To call that exchange cartoonish is an insult to Charles Schultz.

Throughout this amazingly glossy pilot, I found myself wondering why smart, original programming doesn’t receive this kind of financial backing? HBO had to save its pennies for eighteen episodes to stage its first epic battle toward the end of the second season of Game of Thrones. The Last Ship spent more coin in its pilot on a three-minute battle between rocket-launching snowmobile riders and Russian attack helicopters. The answer? Michael Bay (Transformers) is one of the producers, and Mr. Bay isn’t a cheap date when it comes to the production values of his projects. He has a talent for making things go “Boom”. He just has a tough time putting a realistic human emotion on a screen, big or small.

The Last Ship generates some interest with its cinematic action sequences, but when it settles back down to the actions and musings of obvious, boring characters and simple-minded plot machinations, viewers will find themselves yearning for the next explosion. If you’re interested in yet another post-apocalyptic soap opera, The Last Ship may be the series for you. If you were looking for a complex drama that makes the most of this intriguing premise, you will be disappointed.

Scott Phillips

The Movie Isle

Scott Phillips holds a degree in print journalism from the University of Georgia and is currently a member of the Georgia Film Critics Association (GAFCA). In addition to his role as a correspondent for Timed Edition, Scott serves as the Executive Editor and Senior Writer for From 2013 through 2017, he reviewed films for Along with his duties as a critic, Scott serves as the Content Programmer for the Way Down Film Festival held in Columbus, Georgia every fall.

Continue Reading
Mondo Presents: Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years

The hype was real. I was privileged to attend the press preview for the latest Mondo Gallery…
Read More
Film Review: A Star is Born

A Star is Born, the new film co-written and directed by Bradley Cooper, is a cinematic perfect…
Read More
The Standoff at Sparrow Creek: Fantastic Fest 2018 Film Review

A high-profile crime has been committed.  A group of men gather at a warehouse.  There is a…
Read More